Material: Born in Russia into a musical family, Oleg Frish was immersed in music from a young age, where, despite the iron curtain, he managed to become well versed in The American Songbook, rock & roll, jazz and swing. Considered a historian, he has become an ambassador of the music he reveres, a role he has parleyed into a radio and TV personality and eventually, performer. One could describe Frish as a male “chanteuse” with a repertoire traversing several genres over four decades showcasing songs like “On The Sunny Side Of The Street,” “The Things We Did Last Summer” and “Hello Dolly.”
Musicianship: Frish’s innate musicality is most evident in his phrasing, which is natural and intuitive. Wisely adhering to material that serves his voice best, he does not step out of his vocal comfort zone, which keeps his performance consistent. Frish assembled a world-class band spearheaded by Alan Farnham delivering nothing short of great playing and supportive arrangements, which paired well with Frish’s vocal style.
Performance: Supported by a top-shelf band, Frish took the audience on a journey, sometimes in several of the 15 languages he sings in. Entertaining and informative best describe this show with a well-laid out set and plenty of backstories to share. Frish was on stage for an hour and 30 minutes (barring a break to bring up special guest artist Bonds for a couple of numbers) filling the time with relevant content. Frish’s reverence for the artists he admires was at times a bit excessive considering the fact that this was his show. Ask almost every artist and they will name several mentors that they hold in high esteem.
When Frish sang a rendition of “The Things We Did Last Summer” he became a bit unnerved by Helen Merrill’s presence in the audience. He re-started the song, which was a human and appealing moment and proceeded to pull out one of his best numbers. On the other hand, capitalizing on the immense
love he has for many artists (while also demonstrating keen marketing savvy), Frish recently released an album of duets entitled Oleg Frish: Duets With My American Idols, some of which include Melissa Manchester, Gary U.S. Bonds, Lainie Kazan and the late Ben E. King.
Summary: Oleg Frish is an interesting study in intelligence, good taste and consummate entertaining and has earned the right to fully own that. He has a profound understanding of the genres in which he performs and, above all, an enthusiasm and affection for material that should never be forgotten.
The Players: Oleg Frish, vocals; Allen Farnham; piano, musical director; David Ephross, bass; Jack Cavari, guitar; Bob Millikan, trumpet; Birch Johnson, trombone; Lawrence Feldman, sax; Allan Schwartzberg, drums; Gary U.S. Bonds, guest vocalist.
Photo by Mark Shiwolich
Venue: Feinstein's 54 Below
City: New York, NY
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